City of Columbus Celebrates Win Changing the Eviction Process
The City of
Columbus and the Legal Aid Society of Columbus celebrated a victory on a
decision by the Tenth District Court of Appeals that prevents landlords from
evicting tenants without appearing in court.
family loses stable housing, everything is thrown into chaos,” said Mayor
Andrew J. Ginther “This decision represents real and tangible change to a
system that disproportionately impacts single women, especially women of color.
I am grateful to the Columbus Women’s Commission and the Legal Aid Society of
Columbus for their diligent work on an issue that has become even more critical
in the time of COVID-19.”
first time in 32 years, Franklin County tenants will not be evicted by
affidavit. Their landlords will have to
bring witnesses to court to testify and prove their case, just like everyone
else. Housing advocates believe that the rule change will lead to more
opportunities for landlords and tenants to negotiate settlements that will
benefit both parties.
very excited by the outcome of this case," said Kate McGarvey, executive
director of Ohio State Legal Services Association. "We anticipate that the
new requirement for landlords or property managers to appear in person to give
testimony at eviction hearings will lead to more settlements and more
opportunities for both parties to utilize the many resources--including Legal
Aid, Impact and Community Mediation-- that are available at the courthouse to
overrides a long-standing policy in eviction court that allowed landlords or
property managers to plead their case via affidavit instead of presenting live
testimony during a trial. The ruling follows an appeal filed by LASC in August
2019. Legal Aid represented Traci Wimberly who was evicted from her Canal
Winchester apartment during a court hearing where neither she nor her landlord
were present. Legal Aid argued that landlords have to present live witness
testimony at trial just like any other plaintiff involved in a court
decision, the Tenth District Court of Appeals found that the rules of court
requiring live testimony apply to eviction cases. Eviction judgments can no
longer be issued based only testimony by affidavit alone.
there were more than 18,000 evictions filed in Franklin County – one of the
highest rates of eviction in the country.